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The Flock
cast: Richard Gere, Clare Danes, Kadee Strickland, Ray Wise, and Avril Lavigne

director: Andrew Lau

101 minutes (18) 2007
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
High Fliers DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
Acclaimed director of the Internal Affairs trilogy of films, Andrew Lau, presents his first English language offering in the shape of The Flock. This is a film that deals with that most taboo of subjects, sexual abuse.

Lau gathers together an interesting cast for this piece. First there is Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, An Officer And A Gentleman, Runaway Bride), a man who two decades ago was one of Hollywood's quintessential leading men. Gere's star hasn't fallen, more waned, over time. Then there is the youthful vibrancy of Claire Danes (Stardust) and these two heavy-hitters are backed-up by the musically annoying Canadian teen-rocker, Avril Lavigne.

Surprisingly, this mix does work. Gere is excellent throughout as the near-retirement monitor of sex offenders, Errol Babbage, and reminds us what a fine actor he actually is as he makes this his film. Kadee Strickland backs the aforementioned trio superbly well, making this as sound a piece of casting as I have witnessed in a while. Gere and Danes work particularly well together in that mentor and trainee relationship that has been successful in many a film. So, the $64,000 question is: why did the movie flop?

Well, as much as Lau does a tremendous job pulling out great performances the direction seems to be a touch fragmented throughout. Some flash scenes are intertwined with what are seemingly intended to be visceral scenes of dark and twisted actions but instead come across as clunky and messy chopping board pieces that confuse and annoy in equal measure. Also, and without spoiling too much of the plot, some obvious contradictions come to the fore and are not properly dealt with, serving only to leave the viewer with that most horrible of horrible questions when watching a movie: 'yeah, but how did..?'

The last great spoiler for The Flock is the stark similarities with 8MM. This inevitable comparison always leaves The Flock floundering and whilst it is actually difficult to say which of the two movies is the best, 8MM will always be the first and as such leaves Lau's film having to be 10 percent better just to be seen as equal. Think of it like a middle child.

The Flock is not without its merits and is certainly worth catching. It won't be the last word on a contentious and touchy subject, and certainly won't be genre defining, but it is damn decent nonetheless.
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